A good workout routine should be no more than an hour in length, because after an hour, the "fight or flight" hormone cortisol is released by the body and it inhibits muscle growth.
When designing your own routines, first decide what your goals are. Your goals should be specific, not vague generic goals like "I want to get bigger", or "I want to add muscle".
The more specific the goal, the more likely you are to hold yourself accountable, and therefore the more likely you are to succeed.
Examples could be to gain a certain amount of muscular bodyweight within a certain time frame, or to increase a major lift to a new personal best in a set time frame. The goal should always be set against a time frame, as this will help you keep on track.
Lets say you decide to gain 10 lbs. of muscle in three months as an example.
Having decided on the goal, the next step is to decide what is a good workout routine that will enable you to achieve your objective.
The priority is building muscle, so you'll want to use the exercises that build the most amount of muscle, which invariably means the major compound exercises like the squat and the dead lift.
I'd bet money that if you asked any major competitive bodybuilder what was the cornerstone of a good workout routine, they'd say the dead lift or the squat.
If you're able to train both movements hard and progressively and still recover well then terrific, but most of us may find that having both movements in a single routine is too much hard work.
Both exercises can be built up to the stage where you're moving twice and even three times your own bodyweight. This is desirable because lifting big is a vital part of a good workout routine, but know that it can be very demanding work.
My suggestion is to find out which of those two exercises suit you best, and then work as hard as possible on the chosen movement.
Uppermost in your thinking should be safety - especially if you train at home, you must be sure that you can arrange an excellent safety set up, and this may influence your choice. For example, the squat exercise will require a power rack, or at the very least a pair of squat stands, so that you can dump the bar in safety if you fail on a rep.
The dead lift does not need a power rack, so in this circumstance it may be a wiser choice. If you can do each movement in complete safety it is simply a matter of which one suits your body structure the best.
Having a major mass building lower body exercise is an integral part of a good bodybuilding routine, because your legs and back form a very large part of your overall body muscle mass, and the fastest way to build your body up is to focus on the large leg and back musculature.
Now let's look at the upper body. This is of vital importance, but even more important is to always pay your dues on leg training, as this will make your body grow all over.
For upper body, a mix of pulling and pushing movements should be used in order to get stronger in pushing and pulling strength.
- For pushing movements choose from bench press, overhead press and chin up.
- For pulling movements choose from chin up, one arm dumbbell row, and the shrug.
Because the upper body exercises don't recruit as much muscle as the lower body exercises, you can afford to have more of them in your bodybuilding routine, but make sure that your workouts don't drag on for too long as mentioned at the beginning of the article.
You will need one or two smaller exercises like the calf raise and an abs exercise, but don't add too many small exercises or it will hamper overall progress.
Two short but demanding workouts a week based on major compound lifts, good food and plenty of rest and sleep is the secret to big, fast gains in muscle.